Red Plates in Siberia

4 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Wade Lewis, DPH/M33 Productions, Andy Wigan, Matty Mac Media

The pit paddock at Coolum Pines motocross track is a big, sprawling, disjointed beast. At its epicentre, in the shadow of the track’s control tower, a bunch of Yamaha teams bathe in the Sunshine Coast’s late afternoon golden light. They’re flanked by the other factory-backed big-rigs. Next in line, the manufacturers’ ‘satellite teams’. Then the smaller outfits funded by the sport’s colourful benefactors and money launderers. And finally, the privateers in their humble box vans.
Way down on the far side of the complex, some 50 metres past the last race truck, the DPH Motorsport semi-trailer sits on vacant patch of grass. Just like the Husqvarna brand, which DPH has been associated with for two seasons, the truck’s a subtly branded big-rig with a plain white awning and a dozen pot plants to make it feel more like home. Milling around it is an ecstatic bunch of people who look like they’re trying to make sense of what they’ve just achieved.

Earlier on Sunday morning, I’d thought to myself how strange it was that the team with the red plates in both MX1 and MX2 classes had been parked so far from the action. But as the sun now set on the final round of the 2019 Pirelli MX Nats, it’s apparent that the DPH crew haven’t got a care in the world, least of all that they’ve been parked in the Coolum pits’ boondocks. While the rest of the teams in the paddock are busily packing up and looking to hurriedly fly the MX Nats coup, the party is just getting started for the close-knit DPH Motorsport posse. They’ve just created history by being the first team to win both MX1 and MX2 national titles in the same year, and it’s time to celebrate.
“Mate, it seems that the more you pay, the closer you get to the inner sanctum,” says DPH’s Dale Hocking, when I ask him why he’s pitted way out in the Siberian boonies. “But we don’t care. We’re not interested in the politics,” he says, winner’s champagne and two massive trophies in hand. “I’m okay with being parked out here as it lets us do our thing and then prove ourselves out on the track. And we sure did that today. Actually, we did it all season. On a shoestring budget compared to the other big teams, this family of incredible people behind me right here did what no other team in the sport has ever managed to do in this country. It’s a sensational feeling!”
Dale barely finishes his sentence before Boyd, his son, fires up Todd Waters’ FC450 and holds it against the rev limiter. BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA … BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA.

The Husky’s ear-piercing percussion galvanizes the attention of everyone in ‘Siberia’: the extended DPH family, the sponsors, the riders’ mates, the photographers, and the wellwishers. The next thing you know, Todd Waters and Wilson Todd have their championship-winning bikes on the semi’s chequer-plate lift-gate and rip into a synchronised burnout, laughing, hooting and throwing shakas. BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA … BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA. BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA … BRRRRRRAAAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAA-AAAAAA.
Boyd Hocking chimes in with a bottle of champers, squirting bubbly into the twilight-lit smoke. No one can get enough of it.
When Waters’ 450 abruptly stops, it’s cause for more raucous laughter. “She’s run out of fuel,” Waters says after a quick inspection. “C’mon, Dale; fill ‘er up, mate,” he says, laughing at the irony. “I’m not done here!”
Sure enough, the proud team owner tops the FC450 up with juice. Comically, one of Todd’s best mates, Matty Macalpine, lubes the boys’ chains, while Todd’s old man, Steve, weighs in with a squirt of lubricant under their rear tyres.

It’s not until the boys’ celebratory burnout is finally over that the DPH crew pause to contemplate the fuel situation. All day, they’ve been acutely aware that the final moto on Coolum’s sandy track would be tight on fuel. But here was proof that it was super-tight. Less than a minute’s burnout after Waters took the chequers to claim the title, his bike has run out of juice. But amid the champagne-fuelled festivities, the DPH boys make light of the fact that just 300ml of fuel has stood between disaster and the maiden title that’s been so tantalisingly close for Waters since he ran second to Josh Coppins way back in 2012.

Out of the darkness, Husqvarna’s boss, Jeff Leisk, then rocks up aboard Todd’s latest “project”: a customised mid-1970s Husky CR125 with an old-school Number 47 on the front plate. Leisk jumps off and embraces both riders in congratulatory man-hugs. Leisky has backed Waters throughout his entire Junior career – and for several seasons since – so the two have lots of history.
“Told you I’d win you a title one day, Jeff,” Waters says, reflecting on the promise he’d made Leisk back in 2015 over a casual lunch in Perth.
The DPH huddle reflects on Waters’ near-parallel with Leisk’s historic misfortune 30 years ago – when running out of fuel at Netherlands’ sandy Valkenswaard track cost the 24-year-old Australian rookie the 1989 World 500cc Motocross Championship – and the conversation turns to creating history.
“So, when was the last time Husqvarna won an Australian Motocross Championship, Jeff?,” I ask.
“Mate, you’ve got me there,” Leisk says. “A long time ago. I want to say it was Pelle Granquist’s titles back in 1979!”
Leisk is bang-on. Swedish import, Pelle Granquist, won the 250 and 500cc Australian MX titles aboard a Husky in 1978 and 1979, meaning it’s been 40 years between No.1 drinks for the Swedish-born brand in Oz. That stat adds even more weight to the DPH team’s achievement, and it prompts another round of hugs and hoots and rev-limiter action.
“Righto, boys, time to shut it down,” Dale says. “Just got a call from WEM about breaching the noise curfew. Which is fair enough. Let’s take this party into town. Yew!”

More on Waters’ 2019 Title Win



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